|The legal team which the Michigan/Detroit Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild helped to assemble, successfully guided the MICATS 3 activists through their sentencing hearing today, March 5th, 2014. The MICATS 3 were convicted on January 31, 2014, after a three day jury trial, of misdemeanor trespassing and felony Resisting and Obstructing Police. After receiving the jury verdict, the trial judge revoked their bonds and remanded the MICATS 3 to the Ingham County Jail pending sentencing.
Dozens of letters from relatives, friends and supporters were submitted to the sentencing judge today, together with lengthy sentencing memoranda documenting the many positive contributions to humanity the MICATS 3 demonstrators had accomplished during their lifetimes. The Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MICATS) submitted online petitions to the Court containing 50,000 signatures demanding that the MICATS 3 be released from custody. The courtroom was packed with about 150 supporters of the struggle to stop the importation of Canadian tar sands through Michigan.. Numerous news media reporters were in attendance.
The only issue we lost on was the application of Michigan Sentence Guideline Offense Variable 19. The attorneys for the defendants argued vigorously that if the prosecution’s legal position was upheld, it would mean that everyone in the state convicted of Resisting and Obstructing would automatically be assessed 10 points for this variable. The judge agreed that the prosecution position was illogical, but felt he had to follow the case law that was cited, and assessed the 10 points.
It ended up not making any difference, however, as the Judge sentenced each activist identically: credit for 36 days spent in the county jail; a 13 month period of probation; together with payment of standard fines and costs.
The remaining thorny issue is Restitution. Michigan has a strict Restitution Statute which requires the assessment of restitution as statutorily defined. The prosecution is seeking Restitution for the following:
For Precision Pipeline, LLC (an Enbridge subcontractor): $41,500.68
Overtime for Ingham County Deputy Sheriffs: $1,604.22
Expenses for MI State Police Cut Team: $3,500.00
Total Restitution Sought at this time: $46,604.90
The ultimate restitution orders will provide for joint and several liability among the four defendants convicted of Resisting and Obstructing.
A Restitution Hearing will be scheduling at a mutually convenient later date to establish a testimonial record for the objections of the MICATS 3 to the Restitution amounts. Any inappropriate restitution amounts will be appealed.
The crowd of supporters held a celebratory demonstration outside the Mason, MI Court Building today, after the hearings were completed. All three protesters were released later in the day from the Ingham County Jail.
The Michigan/Detroit Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild issues its profound thanks to all of our members and friends who helped in the defense of the MICATS 3, as well as in the defense of the six protesters charged only with misdemeanor trespassing.
Additionally, retired Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton was present in the courtroom in support of the MICATS 3. He sought permission to perform the Ash Wednesday service with the three protesters prior to the Sentencing Hearings, but was turned down by the Judge. Bishop Gumbleton has a long history of organizing for peace and justice throughout the world.
MICATS3 – Barbara Carter speaking on her experience:
You can view more from the MICATS [here]